Korean culture, Korean movies

«Move to Heaven». What will be left in the yellow box?

What images occur to your mind when you hear the word “cleaning company”? Pedantry, cleanliness, and open-mindedness are the basic criteria for choosing the strangers who will get access to your home. The place where everything is frank, where there is no chance to disguise your personality under the circumstances or hide your real feelings.

“Move to Heaven” is a “trauma cleaners” company that helps people with their last “move”. The main characters of the K-drama don’t just clean the house; they pack all precious and memorable things into a yellow box and pay last respects to the deceased. Trauma cleaners also take the responsibility of giving the yellow box to the immediate family members or close friends.

This short TV series was inspired by Kim Sae-byul’s essay “Things left behind”. In his book, the owner of a similar company tells real trauma cleaning stories in the houses of lonely people whose families had no clue about their’ deaths. Those people were often excluded from society for a variety of reasons. While watching, we dive deep into the personal stories of absolutely different people due to their age or social status. This K-drama depicts people’s social issues at work, in college, or private lives. The TV show starts with a life story of an adolescent who was working himself to death because of the poverty his family lived in. A bit later, we’ll discover a tragic story of an ethnical Korean guy who, as a baby, was sent to the U.S for adoption. Still, after living there for about 20 years, he didn’t get citizenship and was deported back to South Korea. After returning to his homeland, he felt like an alien because he was barely speaking his “mother tongue”.

A part of the stories from Kim Sae-byul’s essay was considered during scriptwriting and filming. Throughout 10 episodes, we observe not just the relationship transformations between the main characters, but we also have a chance to witness the process of accepting one’s hurtful past and learning how to let the offenses go and forgive yourself.

One of the main characters is a 20-year-old guy Han Geu-ru who has Asperger’s syndrome; that’s why he has a hard time understanding people’s emotions and building communication. This syndrome has typical features, such as relatively poor speech with robotic intonations. Furthermore, people with Asperger’s syndrome have a lower possibility of comprehending other people’s feelings; they can just analyze the information and draw conclusions. Obsessive interest in any kind of thing is the other key feature of the main symptoms of this autism spectrum disorder. While being stressed out or experiencing a nervous breakdown, Geu-ru finds relief in marine animals, especially skate fish. Whereas naming all kinds of skate fish and their characteristics, he tries to avoid an irritating agent from the outside world.

Source: Netflix / Photo by: Anastasiia Malakhova

Any kind of change is hard for Geu-ru to get used to. After his dad’s sudden death, there is a period of forced adaptations and modifications of a calm and slow-paced life. At that moment, Geu-ru’s uncle appears at his house. He was just released from prison and didn’t seem to fit the guardian’s role because of his mean and arrogant personality with a dozen bad habits. Cho Sang-gu used to be a mixed martial arts fighter, and he participated in many illegal ultimate fights. As a result, he was imprisoned because of his ill fate. His character develops in every episode, showing flashbacks from his past and unhappy childhood, which formed his determination but didn’t break him.

Source: Netflix / Photo by: Anastasiia Malakhova

The plotline of building relationships between uncle and nephew affects the fate of each of the characters equally. The process of becoming a family of two diametrically opposed people cannot but surprise and sometimes even provokes a smile.

Source: Netflix / Photo by: Anastasiia Malakhova

The main peculiarity of “trauma cleaning” is the process of gathering personal things; because if you want to get to know the deceased’s life story, you need to be able to hear it. The moments of cleaning the houses are filmed harmonically and peacefully without dramatism. Geu-ru listens to classical music, which helps him to concentrate. You can enjoy the music of Claude Debussy’s “Claire De Lune”, Frederic Chopin’s “Nocturne No.2”, and Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédies” playing in the background.

The mini-series “Move to Heaven” also highlights actual events that significantly changed the lives of Koreans. For example, while watching the drama, we see horrific footage from the actual disaster scene in Seoul in June 1995. A department store suddenly collapsed due to structural failure, causing more than 1,000 people to suffer.

 Source: Netflix / Photo by: Anastasiia Malakhova

The heartbreaking and symbolic moment of the TV show is the “trauma cleaning” of the one most influential person in the main characters’ lives. Acceptance and humility are what the yellow box symbolizes, and it is the image of healing that both key heroes needed so badly. “Move to Heaven” is a K-drama about how strong it hurts because of promises which weren’t kept and how important is forgiveness. Despite the pain because of losses, disappointments, and childhood traumas, Geu-ru and Sang-gu accepted the uniqueness of each other and learnt how to trust. Each of them needed to be sure about one thing: they are not alone, and some people want to be by their side. You can’t stop being who you are, but you can find a brand new version of yourself thanks to the close people.

Author Anastasiia Malakhova

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